Equity Health Impact Assessment
This document is not a Save Kapiti paper, but was independently commissioned and prepared by Kapiti residents. Consequently, Save Kapiti do not take responsibility for its content. We are presenting it here as a community service because we agree that the health matters of the proposed Expressway have not been properly covered in the NZTA application.
A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Kapiti expressway shows there are likely to be significant health impacts for anyone living within 200m of the proposed road. Public health lecturer Dr Marie O’Sullivan, who has been commissioned to research and write the report, says most households interviewed along the route have an existing health condition which would be exacerbated by being located next to a motorway.
Dr O’Sullivan says “There are many older people and young families along the proposed route. These two groups would be most negatively impacted by living next to a major road. While some people we interviewed knew about the effects on lung capacity and respiratory functioning, many were unaware of the other major health problems associated with living next to a motorway; – increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, sleep disturbance and reduced cognitive functioning along with effects on mental health from noise, community severance and reduced quality of the surrounding environment. We estimate that approximately two thirds of residents with hearing aids, who are living close to the proposed route, would be unable to use these reliably because of the proposed noise levels”.
Dr O’Sullivan adds that another major concern which has come to light as a result of the survey is the lack of information many households had about the project. “The proposed route goes through high density housing with approximately 1360 dwellings located within 200m of the route. Many of these households didn’t realize that SH1 was being re-routed to go past their back fence. This indicates that the Transport Agency’s (NZTA) consultation has been inadequate”.
The HIA was independently commissioned by concerned members of the public so that individuals can easily get factual information on the health effects of living next to a major road based on independent research. It includes information from peer reviewed scientific literature and organizations around the world including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the British Medical Association (BMA). Dr O’Sullivan says “NZTA have not included information on health impacts in any of their 36 reports on the effects of the expressway. It is dangerous to assume that there are negligible or no health impacts from a project this big. When the British Medical Association says that long term exposure to air pollutants decreases life expectancy, it’s a good idea to pay attention”.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now calling for submissions on the Kapiti expressway. The HIA will be submitted as evidence and SaveKapiti have agreed to post a copy on their website so anyone can refer to the research in their own submission. Preliminary results from the household survey will also be on the SaveKapiti website from Friday 3rd August. SaveKapiti urges everyone to make a submission, even if it is only a paragraph in length. The last date for submissions is Friday 10 August, 2012.
About the Author
Dr Marie O’Sullivan has been a lecturer in Public Health at Wellington School of Medicine for the past four years. She is currently supervising post graduate research. Marie’s background is in Psychology and she completed a PhD in 2006, specialising in neurodegenerative conditions, examining the early memory changes of Alzheimer’s disease.
Prior to this, she completed a Masters with first class honours with a thesis on the cognitive deficits of Parkinson’s disease. Her interest in aging and disability research as carried through to the Public Health sector and also influenced her interest in transport policy. During 2000, Marie spent time at Cambridge University on a visiting fellowship funded by the NZ Vice-Chancellors Committee. Prior to returning to study, Marie worked in the finance sector and spent time as a financial analyst on Wall St, and a number of years as a Treasury analyst in local government and social policy areas.
Address for Correspondence: Marios_2@xtra.co.nz